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Year 10 - Revising for your Poetry Exam

As part of your revision for the last three weeks before the exam, this post gives you some practice questions and exercises you can do as part of your revision.

First of all if you are struggling with analysis here is a post which talks you through the key stages. See this post before you move on. 

If you are unsure about the requirements of the exam then you should take a look at the two posts below:

In addition there is a great 2hr 40 minute Youtube video that covers each of the poems in detail. You can skip through for poems you are unsure of:

The link is HERE if you would rather watch in Youtube.

So what else do you need to consider?

You need to ensure you have the accurate skills and content to access your top band marks:


Points that answer the question
Choose an effective poem to compare to
3-4 Quotations per poem
Comparative connectives (Both similarities and differences)
Appropriate terminology and devices (don't get hung up on these though - your analysis is worth more marks.


Paraphrasing Quotations
Analysing Quotations
Evaluating Quotations
Effective Linking to the Question

Written Accuracy

A lot of the differences between the top bands come down to how your writing sounds so ensure you have.

A Formal Academic Register
Accurate Sentence Structures
Accurate Punctuation of Sentences
Accurate Spelling
Wide use of Language of the Expert (Terminology and Sophistication of Expression)

See HERE for tips on sounding like an expert.

Things you should be familiar with:

Forms of Poems

Dramatic Monologue

Structural Terms

Rhythm (Syllabic Pattern)
Juxtaposition of Ideas


Extended Metaphor

You should also have prepared poems that you think link well - see HERE for a sheet.

Then comes actually sitting down to revise - how much, how often and what.

This post should help you with exam stress and revision:

Top candidates will be able to access their quotations quickly so they don't have to waste time searching and can get into the nuts and bolts of writing very quickly developing more points overall.

Create a list of 5 key quotations for each poem. These quotations should fit most questions.

Each year the examiner produces a report on how students performed in the exam. The post below summarises what the examiner says makes successful answers. Read this and make notes on what you should do.

Then practice writing.

I'd recommend an exam question each week for both papers. You can try any of the ones below.

How does the poet present the idea of isolation in 'The Hunchback in the Park' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present desperation in 'Give' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present identity in 'Singh Song' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present power in 'My Last Duchess and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present the idea of characters who have choices in the poem Give and another poem of your choice?

Here is an unseen poem for you to tackle:

What is the poet's attitude to different classes and how does she present that attitude to the reader?

a song in the front yard

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows. 
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now 
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play. 
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine. 
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae 
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace 
And strut down the streets with paint on my face. 
Gwendolyn Brooks

How does the poet present the idea of life in her poem?

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? 

Last of all, we all need a slice of luck in exams so prepare well and make your own luck.I wish you all the best!

The last Exam question a week post- AQA

You are now 6 weeks away from your exam - have completed your Controlled Assessments and three mock exams and you now are fine tuning your skills for the main event.

Hopefully you've looked at any disappointing results as positives and worked out where you went wrong and how to put things right.

At this point I can point you to this post  on marginal gains and remind you that an improvement of one mark per question is an improvement of a grade when you add these together.

The last post has the questions you should attempt and some tips no mistakes I have seen from your mock exams.

First of all here are your sources:

Source 1 - Kenya To Deploy Drones in All National Parks

Source 2  - Google Glasses

Source 3 - The Toughest Expedition of my Life

Question 1 - What do you understand about the issue of Poaching in Kenya's National Parks? (Source 1)

This question is gradually improving. Remember 3-4 quotations with inferences linked to the key words in the question.

Key Mistake from Mock - Inferences should be in your own words not repeating the words from the text and for the sophisticated band your inference should make a connection that is not expressly written in the text.

Question 2 - Explain how the Headline, the sub-headline and the picture are effective and how they link to the text. (Source 2)

You need to anlayse one or two features of the Headline and the picture. Each point your make should have a specific link to a quotation from the text.

Key Mistake from the Mock - Not linking your analysis to specific quotations from the main text and jumping straight to colour in the picture. Remember only use colour if it is a clear choice of the article - don't forget scale is also important.

Question 3 - Explain some of the thoughts and feelings of the writer about his Atlantic rowing adventure.

3-4 Quotations needed here. Link your inferences to thoughts and feelings.

Key Mistake from the Mock - Not covering thoughts and inferences simply re-stating what is in the text. Sophisticated tip - if your quotation has a device in it, mention it!

Question 4 - Compare some of the ways the writers use language for effect. (Source three and either Source 1 or Source 2).

This question has seen the biggest improvement. Remember you need 3-4 quotations from each text analysed focusing on effect and evaluated for the top band.

Key Mistake from the Mock - The device is not important the effect is. Don't technique spot, tell the examiner what the language suggests. Sophisticated Band tip - Only focus on individual words; you don't have to write down lengthy quotations.

Question 5 - Describe an experience where you had to show mental toughness and explain how you overcame it for an online teen blog.

5 - 6 paragraphs needed here. Remember your variety hand to ensure you include all the relevant details of writing.

Key Mistake from the Mock - Remember your purpose(s). Your writing needs to be decriptive, informative , explanatory or a combination of purposes. Tick each purpose in the question as you meet it.

Question 6 - 'If we continue to take nature for granted, we will soon be the only living organisms left on the planet'.

Argue for or against prioritising nature for a newspaper article.

Here you need 7-8 paragraphs. Remember your variety hand to ensure you include all the relevant details of writing.

Key Mistake from Mock - Not showing balance in your argument. Even if it asks you to argue for or against, the purpose of Argue means you still need to show balance.

Remember your exam questions are due in every Wednesday.


Revising for your Exams

As I always say, the best way to revise for any exam is to practise exam questions, have them marked by a teacher or tutor and then go back and improve it -correcting errors and checking it again with the teacher to see how you've improved (see here for advice).

However this can only make up part of your revision schedule as other subjects revision comes along and leaving time for the other essential part of exam revision - relaxation (not all the time though!). If you are over-stressed you can't function properly (just as if you are too relaxed you can't function properly) - so make sure you balance the two.

Throughout this post I'm going to link to some useful posts I've put together on how to prepare for exams.

This post was a big hit last year and helps you mentally prepare for exam - Stressed with revision? Click Here

There are two types of revision you can do - generic (focusing on all the things that could come up in the exam) and specific (weaknesses you know you definitely need to focus on).

Generic revision is everything you have covered in class but do you know what your specific weaknesses are? Your teacher should have told you, you should have written it down and you should be working on it. You will have done activities like the Writing MOT or feedback grids to help you identify this. Make sure you know your targets and what you need to put real time into focusing on.

Listed below are my top tips for short revision tasks for both Language and Literature examinations:

Language Exam

Mimicking Writing - Take an article from someone like Grace Dent, Charlie Brooker or Caitlin Moran. Take a paragraph and try to imitate their style (look at language, punctuation and sentence structure) about a different topic of your choice.

Top Trumps - Either check out my top trumps cards here  or make your own.

Language Forfeits - Check out the list of vocabulary here and use it in sentences with your friends. If anyone can't use a word or uses it incorrectly you choose their forfeit ( disclaimer... keep it clean: keep it legal).

What's the Point - See how quickly you can identify the topic sentences in a newspaper or web article. Time yourself highlighting them and check what you've highlighted with your teacher.

Write the Headline / Produce the Picture - Do a random google image search and write an effective headline for the picture you've found or vice versa - search an online newspaper and produce the picture (check these with your teacher).

Literature Exam

Quotations, Quotations, Quotations

Quotabix - A great idea I saw another teacher promoting - Stick quotations from the set texts to your cereal box and they are the first thing you see every morning. Read 5 each bowl of cereal you have.

Memory Palace - People with better memories do better in exams. Lots of people with great memories create a memory palace. A room or place that is familiar to them they visualise retrieving the information from. Place quotations around your bedroom and read them aloud each time you pass them. In the exam you should be able to picture your room and where the quotations are.

Sounding Smrt - As you progress through the marks in an exam you often gain more marks for the way you sound as much as what you write. Make sure you are using formal standard English. You might want to check this post and practice using the phrases between now and the exam.

Class Characters - To help you remember a character in a text or poem assign someone in your class or someone you know who has some similar attributes. When you are in the exam and you need to describe characterisation you could visualise that person.

Quotatoin Forfeits - Go back and forth between friends saying quotations from your set texts. If anyone can't use a quotation or uses it incorrectly you choose their forfeit ( disclaimer... keep it clean: keep it legal).

Check here for some Of Mice and Men Quotations

Happy Revision!

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